First of all, I realize this is not the most positive post to launch my new blog. However, God keeps reminding me how important the topic of suicide is to Him. The topic of suicide is important to God because it deals with life and death in this life and in eternity. If a topic is important to God then it needs to be important to us. Recently I've been asking God to help me "hate what He hates and love what He loves." I am convinced that God hates suicide and loves people.
Just in the past 2 days I have counseled with three teenagers contemplating suicide. Those students were not atheists. Those students did not wear all black and only listen to heavy metal. Those students were all devout Christians who are struggling with depression and feel trapped by their circumstances.
September is designated as suicide awareness month. Suicide is a tragedy that affects millions of people’s lives either directly or indirectly. You will be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t dealt with suicide in some capacity. With this heartbreaking reality in our culture, it is imperative that teenagers, parents, school teachers, clergy, & basically everyone knows warning signs of suicide, causes of suicide, & how to find help for people struggling with suicide and depression.
Here are some quick facts about suicide complimentary of dosomething.org and health.com
- Suicide is a tragedy that affects over 5,000 teenagers in the US a year.
- Nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide yearly.
- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds.
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for 24-35 year olds.
- Each suicide intimately affects at least 6 people.
- Depression that is untreated, undiagnosed, or ineffectively treated is the number 1 cause of suicide.
- Strong social support is known to lower suicide risk
- Suicide can trigger copy-cat attempts
It is my belief that suicide is 100% preventable if you know what to look for in others and how to get help if you ever get to the point of contemplating suicide. One study reported that 1 in 5 high schoolers have contemplated suicide in the past year. This is an important study because it shows how common suicidal thoughts are BUT also that it's possible to not follow your thoughts to the point of action. I could write about this topic all day but for now here are some important things to know...
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide:
1. Tell someone!
Let me be quick to say, don't just tell anyone. You need to tell a parent, teacher, professional, counselor, call 911, or call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255. This is too serious to keep to yourself. You are not going to be in trouble. There is no shame in getting help. Just like bodies can get sick, so can your mind. You may save your life.
2. Understand while you pain is real, it's also temporary!
You are not always going to feel this way, have this situation, difficult person, or feelings of sadness, etc. People who survived suicide attempts have reported experiencing the impulse to go away after 2 hours. That means 2 hours later people were very thankful their suicide attempt did NOT work and they were able to live! Your situation will get better. You will not always feel this way.
3. Realize suicide doesn't fix anything, it only prevents your situation from ever getting better!
Satan specializes in near-sightedness. He loves when we can only see our present situation and become distressed to the point of becoming suicidal. John 10:10 says, "The thief (Satan) comes to steal, kill, and destroy but I (Jesus) have come that you may have life and have it to the fullest." Don't let Satan or anyone else convince you your situation is hopeless! The God of all the universe says that is not true about you or your situation!
If you are concerned about someone who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts:
1. Recognize the Signs! From webmd.com
- Always talking or thinking about death
- Clinical depression -- deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating -- that gets worse
- Having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
- Losing interest in things one used to care about
- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
- Saying things like "it would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
- Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
- Talking about suicide or killing one's self
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
2. Ask the Question!
If you suspect someone is depressed or suicidal, ask them! You are not giving them a new idea. You are offering hope and support. This helps them to tell on themselves.
3. Get them help!
It's so important to be supportive of depressed and suicidal friends, family, children, students, etc. but realize you're not a professional ( unless you actually are). Make sure that person gets the professional help they need. It is not your job to decide if someone is serious or not. It's your job to make sure they are safe.
4. Don't mitigate someone's suffering!
This is especially important for parents! What's not a big deal to you, could be the end of the world to your child. Calling a child dramatic or dismissing their feelings only perpetuates their hopelessness. Take your child at their word. If they are saying they're suicidal or depressed, do not reprimand them or convince them otherwise. Thank God that they told you and get them the help they need!
Jesus tells us in John 16:33, "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble; but take heart; I have overcome the world." Pain is a part of the human condition. Pain is real. Pain is also temporary. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts please tell someone!
Never, Never, Never Give up!
Julia J. Sadler